Each of us has been there at one time or another. Life brings a serious moment, and you cry out to God from the depths of your soul. This is no simple request for a blessing. The moment and the prayer are critical, but your posture in that prayer is more critical. You might be angry, but there is never room in our faith for an angry prayer. You might feel bitter, but bitterness is no well from which to draw those cries. Let us review the prayers of a man after God’s own heart, one who did all that was required of him. Perhaps he can show us what the faithful and softened heart produces in prayer.
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest. Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the one Israel praises. In you our ancestors put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them. To you they cried out and were saved; in you they trusted and were not put to shame.
I prayed for a financial miracle. Things were getting tight, and my attempts at trying to make something work out to bring in more money were fruitless. I had tithed in faith and had been generous with my finances when others were in need. As time passed, and my prayers were not answered, doubt began to creep in. I shared my concern with brothers and sisters who continued to encourage me to await an answer from God because that is what He does. I knew they were telling me the truth, and I knew what scripture says about his answers to prayer. Yet, I was completely consumed by the circumstance. I determined God’s faithfulness in answering prayer was not a fact yet proven to me.
David starts his prayer from a similar place. He has been asking for relief to no avail. The facts as he sees them indicate that God has forsaken him; He will not answer his prayer. That is what David sees at that point in time and in that singular experience. For a moment, it seems as if he has lost all knowledge of the fact that his God is faithful. Then, his prayers take a turn. Although it appears that he has been forsaken, his focus moves from appearances to truth. He confesses that God is holy. He confesses that God has a track record of delivering his people. He confesses what he is not seeing of God in that moment but what he knows to be true despite that. When he pleads his case before God, his argument is not based on his circumstance but on God’s unchanging nature. That is the prayer of a faithful and softened heart.
I believe a good starting formula for prayer is acknowledgment and confession, and that is what David does here. He acknowledges his situation as it is and is honest concerning how he feels about it. Then, he confesses God’s truth regarding the matter. When we simply acknowledge the issue and stop there, we open ourselves up to praying from anger, bitterness or any emotional place because we focus on the circumstance and not on God. Prayer results in movement and fruit when we switch gears and make that confession. That is when we inject faith into our request. That is when prayer becomes powerful. Father, help us to move our focus in prayer from acknowledging our circumstances to confessing your goodness, holiness, justice and faithfulness.